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BPO kicks off romantic Tchaikovsky Festival

Italian pianist Fabio Bidini has a lively history with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He last appeared here in October 2014, playing a romantic Rachmaninoff concerto conducted by BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta. The News reported what a thrill it was.

"Rachmaninoff always ratchets things up in the last moments, and as the music was hurtling toward its close, Falletta turned to face Bidini, and the two brought it in together, the orchestra crashing along in perfect sync. Bidini rose to his feet with the last chord and he and Falletta hugged each other and the crowd went crazy. Great music, and great theater. How do you top that?"

It won't be easy. But Bidini is ready to give his all when Falletta gives the downbeat on the BPO's Tchaikovsky Festival, which begins at 8 p.m. Oct 1 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 2. He will be the soloist in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 3. This is a BPO premiere. The concerto has never before been played on the orchestra's Classics Series. Only about 15 minutes long, it is believed to be a fragment of what Tchaikovsky had intended to be a larger work. But it has great romantic appeal, so much so that George Balanchine made it into a ballet.

Balancing out the program is better-known Tchaikovsky: a suite from the ballet "Sleeping Beauty" and the powerful Symphony No. 5. The Fifth is Falletta's favorite Tchaikovsky symphony. She calls it "one of the most powerful statements in the entire orchestral literature, and a wonderful vehicle for the passionate personality of our BPO."

The Tchaikovsky Festival continues at 8 p.m. Oct. 15 and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 16 with the addition of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. This second concert features the  “1812” Overture; the Serenade for Strings; the Rococo Variations and the Polonaise from “Eugene Onegin.” The soloist in the Rococo Variations is cellist Mark Kosower.

Falletta conducts both sets of Tchaikovsky Festival concerts. Tickets are $29-$82. For info on the BPO, call 885-5000.

 

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